Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reuters - Egypt border police kill African migrant, hurt two

ISMAILIA, Egypt, June 28 (Reuters) - Egyptian police shot dead an African migrant and wounded two others, including a 15-year-old, at the Israeli border on Sunday, security sources told Reuters.

The killing is the second of an unarmed migrant on Egypt's border with Israel in less than a week.

The security sources said they had spotted three men attempting to slip across the border into Israel and ordered them to stop, opening fire when the migrants failed to do so.

The unidentified African man was killed by a bullet fired into the right side of his chest, and the two Eritreans with him were also shot, the sources said.

They said that the 15-year-old was shot through the back and was in a critical condition in an el-Arish hospital, while the third migrant, a 33-year-old, was shot in his right thigh and was in stable condition in hospital in Rafah.

Egypt has come under pressure over the past two years to halt rising numbers of Africans trying to cross the border into Israel. Its border with Israel is a main transit route for migrants and refugees seeking work or asylum in Israel.

Egyptian security forces shot dead at least 28 migrants at the border last year, and deported hundreds of Eritrean asylum seekers back to Asmara despite objections from the United Nations, which feared they would face torture at home.

A Rwandan migrant was arrested trying to enter Israel a few hours before the shootings, the security sources said.

(Reporting by Yusri Mohamed; Writing by Aziz El-Kaissouni; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Anarchy in Calais

News (and some sensationalist views) regarding events at Calais, France - where anarchists, anti-globalization activists, trade unionists, activists from the "No Borders" grouping, and other leftists have been mobilizing over the past few days(and weeks)in attempt to bring down border restrictions between the UK & France and thus liberate "illegal" migrants from these restrictions.

A clenched fist salute to this genuinely internationalist effort
No States, No Capitalism, No Borders



French protest demands open borders for asylum seekers - Digital Journal

Immigration Protestors Call for No Borders - Euronews

Riot police hold Calais anarchists - Metro

Protest to call for 'no borders' - BBC

Lebanese army issues warning after Beirut clash

BEIRUT, June 28 (Reuters) - The Lebanese army said on Sunday it would open fire on any armed person appearing on the streets, after a brief clash between supporters of rival political factions in western Beirut killed one person.

Gunfire erupted in the Aicha Bakkar area when Sunni Muslim followers of anti-Syrian Saad al-Hariri's Future movement clashed with supporters of the pro-Syrian Amal Movement, which is led by Shi'ite parliament speaker Nabih Berri.

Security sources said one woman was killed, and two people were wounded.

"This is an isolated incident between the groups' supporters on the back of the elections in Lebanon. The groups' leadership have nothing to do with it," a security source told Reuters.

Earlier this month, the U.S.-backed "March 14" coalition led by Hariri defeated Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies, including Amal, in a parliamentary election.

Heavy gunfire and celebratory firecrackers erupted after parliament elected Berri as speaker on Thursday and after Hariri was named Prime Minister-designate on Saturday.

"Orders have been given to (the army) to open fire on any armed person appearing on the streets and it will not tolerate any breach of security," a statement from the army leadership said.

Sunni-Shi'ite tensions threatened to boil over into a civil war last year when Sh'ite Hezbollah fighters routed supporters of Hariri and his allies in Beirut and mountains to the east.

A Qatari-mediated deal defused the crisis, but sectarian tensions rose again in the run-up to the election. Hariri is due to begin consultations on Monday to try to achieve his pledge of forming a national unity government.
(Writing by Yara Bayoumy, editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Iran raises death toll in clashes to at least 19

The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — State media reported Sunday at least 10 more deaths in post-election unrest and said authorities have arrested the daughter and four other relatives of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of Iran's most powerful men.

The reports brought the official death toll for a week of unrest to at least 19. State television inside Iran said 10 were killed and 100 injured in clashes Saturday between demonstrators contesting the result of the June 12 election and black-clad police wielding truncheons, tear gas and water cannons.

However English-language Press TV, which is broadcast only outside the country, put the toll at 13 and labeled those who died "terrorists." There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

Amnesty International cautioned that it was "perilously hard" to verify the casualty tolls.

"The climate of fear has cast a shadow over the whole situation," Amnesty's chief Iran researcher, Drewery Dyke, told The Associated Press. "In the 10 years I've been following this country, I've never felt more at sea than I do now. It's just cut off."

On Sunday, the streets of Tehran were eerily quiet.

Press TV reported Rafsanjani's eldest daughter, Faezeh Hashemi, and four other family members were arrested late Saturday. It did not identify the other four. Last week, state television showed images of Hashemi speaking to hundreds of Mousavi supporters.

Rafsanjani, 75, has made no secret of his distaste for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose re-election victory in a June 12 vote was disputed by opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Ahmadinejad has accused Rafsanjani and his family of corruption.

Rafsanjani now heads two very powerful groups. The most important one is the Assembly of Experts, made up of senior clerics who can elect and dismiss the supreme leader. The second is the Expediency Council, a body that arbitrates disputes between parliament and the unelected Guardian Council, which can block legislation.

Also Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki held a news conference where he rebuked Britain, France and Germany for raising questions about reports of voting irregularities in hardline Ahmadinejad's re-election — a proclaimed victory which has touched off Iran's most serious internal conflict since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Thousands of supporters of Mousavi, who claims he won the election, squared off Saturday against security forces in a dramatic show of defiance of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Underscoring how the protesters have become emboldened despite the regime's repeated and ominous warnings, witnesses said some shouted "Death to Khamenei!" at Saturday's demonstrations — another sign of once unthinkable challenges to the virtually limitless authority of the country's most powerful figure.

Sunday's state media reports also said rioters set two gas stations on fire and attacked a military post in clashes Saturday. They quoted the deputy police chief claiming officers did not use live ammunition to dispel the crowds.

Iran has also acknowledged the deaths of seven protesters in clashes on Monday.

On Saturday, state media also reported a suicide bombing at the shrine of the Islamic Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini killed at least two people and wounded eight. Another state channel broadcast images of broken glass, but no other damage or casualties, and showed a witness saying three people had been wounded. But there was no independent verification of the shrine attack or the deaths.

State TV quoted an unidentified witness as saying a man wearing an explosives belt blew himself up at the mausoleum's main gate.

Iran has imposed strict controls on foreign media covering the unrest, saying correspondents cannot go out into the streets to report.

Mottaki criticized Britain, France and Germany for raising questions about Ahmadinejad's victory.

Mottaki accused France of taking "treacherous and unjust approaches." But he saved his most pointed criticism for Britain, raising a litany of historical grievances and accusing the country of flying intelligence agents into Iran before the election to interfere with the vote. The election, he insisted, was a "very transparent competition."

In Washington on Saturday, President Barack Obama urged Iranian authorities to halt "all violent and unjust actions against its own people." He said the United States "stands by all who seek to exercise" the universal rights to assembly and free speech.

Obama has offered to open talks with Iran to ease a nearly 30-year diplomatic freeze, but the upheaval could complicate any attempts at outreach.

The New-York based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said Sunday that scores of injured protesters who had sought medical treatment after Saturday's clashes were arrested by security forces at hospitals in the capital.

It said doctors had been ordered to report protest-related injuries to the authorities, and that some seriously injured protesters had sought refuge at foreign embassies in a bid to evade arrest.

"The arrest of citizens seeking care for wounds suffered at the hands of security forces when they attempted to exercise rights guaranteed under their own constitution and international law is deplorable," said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the campaign, denouncing the alleged arrests as "a sign of profound disrespect by the state for the well-being of its own people."

"The government of Iran should be ashamed of itself. Right now, in front of the whole world, it is showing its violent actions," he said.

Saturday's unrest came a day after Khamenei sternly warned Mousavi and his backers to all off demonstrations or risk being held responsible for "bloodshed, violence and rioting." Delivering a sermon at Friday prayers attended by tens of thousands, Khamenei sided firmly with Ahmadinejad, calling the result "an absolute victory" that reflected popular will and ordering opposition leaders to end their street protests.

Mousavi did not directly reply to the ultimatum.

A police commander sharpened the message Saturday. Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghadam said more than a week of unrest and marches had become "exhausting, bothersome and intolerable." He threatened a more "serious confrontation" if protesters return.

Late Saturday, Ahmadinejad thanked Khamenei for his support, telling the supreme leader: "Without a doubt, you strongly raised the flag of dignity and awareness of the Iranian nation against the arrogant."

The government has blocked Web sites such as BBC Farsi, Facebook, Twitter and several pro-Mousavi sites used by Iranians to tell the world about protests and violence. Text messaging has not been working in Iran since last week, and cell phone service in Tehran is frequently down.

But that won't stifle the opposition networks, said Sami Al Faraj, president of the Kuwait Center for Strategic Studies.

"They can resort to whispering ... they can do it the old-fashioned way," he said.

Karimi reported from Tehran and Kole from Cairo. Associated Press Writers Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran, Brian Murphy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Sebastian Abbot in Cairo contributed to this report.

Robert Fisk: Battle for the Islamic Republic

The Independent
Iran's Supreme Leader and its officially elected president are terrified by the spectre of counter-revolution

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Now that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has placed himself shoulder to shoulder with his officially elected president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the very existence of the Islamic regime may now be questioned openly in a nation ever more divided between reformists and those who insist on maintaining the integrity of the 1979 revolution. Had Khamenei chosen a middle ground, some small compromises towards the countless millions – for in the election, it appears, they were indeed uncounted – who oppose Ahmadinejad, then he might have remained a neutral father-figure. Mir Hossein Mousavi and his supporters had religiously – in the most literal sense of the word – refused to criticise the Supreme Leader or the existence of the Islamic Republic during last week's street demonstrations

But reacting as all revolutionaries do even decades after they have come to power – for the spectre of counter-revolution remains with them until death – Khamenei chose to paint Ahmadinejad's political opponents as potential mercenaries, spies and agents of foreign powers. Treason in the Islamic Republic is, of course, punishable by death. But Khamenei's political alliance with his very odd and hallucinatory president may have sprung from fear as much as anger.

During his Friday prayers address at Tehran University, the Supreme Leader mentioned the dangers of a "velvet" revolution and it is clear that the regime has been deeply concerned by the democratic overthrow of Eastern European and west Asian governments since the fall of the Soviet Union. People power – through which the 1979 revolution was ultimately successful – is a devastating weapon (albeit the only one) in the armoury of a serious but unarmed political opposition.

In the aftermath of the Ahmadinejad "success" at the polls, his supporters were handing out leaflets condemning the secular revolutions of Eastern Europe, and their content says much about the anxieties of Iran's clerical leadership. One of them was entitled: "The system of trying to topple an Islamic Republic in a 'velvet revolution'." It then described how it believes Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and other nations won their freedom.

"'Velvet' or 'colourful' revolutions... are methods of exchanging power for social unrest. Colourful and 'velvet' revolutions occurred in post-communist societies of central and Eastern Europe and central Asia. Colourful revolutions have always been initiated during an election and its methods are as follows:

"1. Complete despair in the attitude of people when they are certain to lose an election...

"2. Choosing one particular colour which is selected solely for the Western media to identify (for their readers or viewers)." Mousavi used green as his campaign colour and his supporters still wear this colour on wristbands, scarves and bandannas.

"3) Announcing that there has been advance cheating before an election and repeating it non-stop afterwards... allowing exaggeration by the Western media, especially in the US.

"4) Writing letters to officials in the government, claiming vote-rigging in the election. It's interesting to note that in all such 'colourful' projects – for example, in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan – the Western-backed movements have warned of fraud before elections by writing to the incumbent governments. In Islamic Iran, these letters had already been written to the Supreme Leader."

Another leaflet maintained that a study – which Khamenei's advisers have obviously undertaken, however inaccurately – demonstrated that vote-rigging will be alleged on the very day of the election and that victory will be claimed by the opposition hours before the counting is finished and before their own defeat is announced. The results, says the document, will therefore already have a "background" of fraud. "In the final stages... supporters gather in front of the regime's official offices, holding colourful banners and protesting against vote-rigging." This part of the demonstration, the leaflet says, "is run by the foreign media who are the opposition movement's supporters so that they make good pictures and mislead the international community".

All this shows a unique and obsessive concern among the Supreme Leader's disciples about just how popular Mousavi's post-election campaign has become. Even the cutting of SMS and mobile communications – and in a sophisticated society such as Iran, this must have cost millions of dollars – did not prevent the calling of rallies which always assembled at the same moment and at the same place.

What we are now seeing is a regime which is far more worried than the Supreme Leader suggested when he threatened the opposition so baldly on Friday. Having refused any serious political dialogue with Mousavi and his opposition comrades – a few district recounts will produce no real change in the result – the Iranian regime, led by a Supreme Leader who is frightened and a president who speaks like a child, is now involved in the battle for control of the streets of Iran. It is a conflict which will need the kind of miracle in which Khamenei and Ahmadinejad both believe to avoid violence.

Child Labor in Egypt

The toil of the young
Thursday 18, June 2009

What is so difficult about upholding minimum age requirements for labor? Jano Charbel investigates

“I wanted to be an actor, but I know that it is not going to happen," said 13 year old Mahmoud Salah who sells ice cold tamarind, liquorish, and carob juice from shiny cylindrical containers in the massive shantytown of Mansheyet Nasser, one of Cairo’s largest informal housing quarters. He said “I go to school and have just finished my exams; I work on this cart with my maternal uncle in summer." Donning a cap, the heat of this seasonal employment didn’t seem to bother Salah, “we work from 10 in the morning all the way till 12 at night; my maternal uncle works the night shift"

Salah has not heard of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) annual conference that taking place from June 3-19 in Geneva, where the Egyptian government is being subjected to criticism over its failure to implement Convention number 138 Concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment – which stipulates that children under the age of 14 years are not be employed, or forced to work. The ILO committee has called on Egypt to double its efforts for the eradication of child labor.

Children under that age of 15 constitute around one-third of Egypt’s population, 10 per cent of these children, between the ages of five and 14, are forced into one form of work or another. The minimum age for child labor permissible by Egyptian law is 14 years. According to statistics issued in 2008 by the United Nation’s agency for children UNICEF: there are an estimated two million and 700 thousand children who are forced to work and toil in Egypt, often in difficult conditions.

The Director of the non-governmental Egyptian Center for Children’s Rights Hany Helal disagrees with UNICEF’s statistics, however. “These numbers are in no way accurate. Other recent statistics compiled by independent NGOs indicate that there are over 4.5 million child laborers in Egypt; while studies issued by social researchers at the American University in Cairo indicate the number may be as high as 5.5 million. There is no way to know for sure, unless more accurate demographic surveys are conducted in each of Egypt’s governorates."

If civil society estimates are correct then 17 per cent to 20 per cent of Egyptian children may actually be child laborers. Meanwhile the lowest of all estimates regarding the number of child laborers are those provided by the Egyptian government – as late as 2008 the government was claiming that only three percent of minors are engaged in child labor, and only seasonally. Officials and spokespersons from the Labor Ministry could not be reached for questions regarding these statistics, updates on the actual number of child laborers in the country, or their child labor inspection efforts.

In any case both Helal and UNICEF are in agreement that poverty is the main driving force behind child labor in Egypt. According to UN statistics 20% of Egyptians live below the poverty line, while another 20% lives just above this level. Helal indicated that the global financial crisis may push additional minors into child labor, and offset governmental programs aimed at addressing this problem.

Just look closely: countless numbers of young children work as helping hands with mechanics, as assistants in electrical workshops; numerous others are found peddling napkins, flowers, and/or begging at traffic lights, while others work at markets, stores, and at dry cleaners where they provide door-to-door delivery services. Elsewhere there are little boys who sit perched in tiny corners by the sliding doors of microbuses as they call out destinations and collect fares from passengers. Outside a metro station in the populous working class district of Shobra El Kheima a distraught mother displayed a photograph of her child to a group of auto-rickshaw drivers and cried out: “Has anybody seen my son Tareq Mohammad? He is skipping school in order to make some extra pocket money by driving a rickshow owned by an immoral and opportunistic man."

“The majority of child laborers are employed in the informal sectors of the economy, such as small workshops, unofficial services, and family-owned projects " said Helal. “In any case child labor has a direct and negative impact upon these children’s levels of literacy, educations, health, safety, wellbeing and life expectancies. Child labor also directly affects families and the state, for it imposes additional burdens on households and state budgets - in terms of increased medical expenditures, decreased levels of education, and lower professional skills amongst the national workforce. I don’t believe that there is any form of child labor which may really be classified as being beneficial or constructive. For any and all forms of child labor involve a denial of educational opportunities, playtime, rest-time, and a general deprivation of childhood activities."

Elsewhere in this sprawling shantytown there is a marble and granite workshop where 11 year old Mustafa Abdel Nasser works. He pushes a wheel barrel laden with fragments of marble and then dumps them into the back of a pickup truck below. With sweat and white dust on his face and arms he said “we’ve ended it ", in reference to his schooling/education. He put down his wheel barrel and added “my father wanted me to complete my education, but I didn’t want to because I don’t like school; and then I also need to make money – for myself and for my family." When asked how much his employer pays him per month, Nasser picked up the wheel barrel from its handlebars and hastily pushed on forth. In any case “the average wage, or earnings, for the typical local resident of Mansheyet Nasser is LE150 or LE 200 per month " (around $US 27-$US 36) according to Manal El Tibi, the Director of the Egyptian Center for Housing Rights. Child laborers or helping hands are usually paid significantly less.

Egypt has often been subjected to criticism at annual ILO conferences for its inability to limit the phenomenon of child labor. The Egyptian State has, in fact, ratified the key international conventions addressing child labor, including both the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1982, in addition to the UN’s International Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, along with the ILO’s Convention number 138 (Concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment) in 1999, and Convention number 182 (Concerning Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention) in 2002. Yet as a state party to all these conventions, Egypt has an obligation to implement and enforce its national child labor legislation in compliance with these international standards. Upholding these provisions has been easier said than done.

According to Labor Analyst, Saber Barakat, of the independent Hisham Mubarak Law Center “the main responsibility for child labor rests with the Ministry of Manpower & Migration, which has now become only the Ministry of Migration as it perceives that it can resolve all of Egypt’s labor problems by sending our workers off to labor in neighboring countries. The ministry is repeatedly failing to uphold the provisions of Convention number 138, and its inspectors seem to be oblivious to the widespread phenomenon of child labor across the country. "

Barakat added that “if the manufacture of Egyptian products continues to involve child labor, as is the case today, then the industrialized countries of Europe and the Americas will move to boycott Egyptian products altogether. This has happened three times already, on a small scale, over the past ten years. If the Egyptian State does not get its act together and exerts a genuine effort to enforce the provisions of Convention # 138, along with the domestic Child Law, then it may be placed on the ILO’s index of violating states. "

The labor analyst concluded by saying that “the Egyptian State ratified the Minimum Age Convention ten years ago, but hasn’t displayed its willingness to implement the provisions of this convention. If Egypt keeps neglecting its international obligations then the ILO may escalate its criticisms by filing complaints before the United Nations’ General Assembly; which may in turn file a complaint to the Security Council – which is empowered to issue warnings, recommendations to refrain from international trade with Egypt, and it may even impose trade restrictions or a comprehensive boycott. ?

According to Egypt’s contemporary legislation governing child labor – specifically Child Law 12/1996, Unified Labor Law 12/2003, and Law No. 126/2008 amending the provisions of the Child Law, the state is obliged to uphold the following provisions: All forms of labor are prohibited for children under the age of 14; vocational training and seasonal employment are not allowed for children under 12 years old; child labor shall not involve work which is hazardous to their health or growth, and must not interfere with their studies. Child laborers of legal age are to work for a maximum of six hours per day, for no more than four consecutive hours at a time; it is not permissible for children to work from the hours of 8pm-7am. Under no conditions is a child to be subjected to employment in the worst forms of child labor – prostitution, the slave trade, trafficking in children, child pornography, adult’s use of children in the commission of crimes, or use as child soldiers. The presence of these worst forms of child labor is said to negligible in Egypt. However, one of the most problematic forms of child labor in Egypt is that involving agricultural labor, especially given that the safeguards listed above are not applied to children working in this sector.

Commenting on this phenomenon, Helal said “it is generally agreed upon that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of all child laborers in Egypt are employed in agriculture. The employment of children in agriculture is perhaps the most the strenuous and detrimental form of child labor, because these children toil from sunrise to sunset under the harmful rays of the sun; plus they are brought in close contact with chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers without protective masks or goggles; there’s also the dust and other airborne particles, and the hazardous risks associated with agricultural machinery. Amongst the other most detrimental industries in which children are forced to work are stone quarries, foundries, smelters, cotton gins, mechanical workshops and glass-manufacturing workshops. "

“It is in the informal sectors where child labor is most prevalent, especially in the so-called stairwell industries which may involve the collection of plastic, paper, and glass for recycling, bottling, etc. Similarly there are stairwell workshops in El Fayoum which manufacture firecrackers and which employ large numbers of poorly paid child laborers. Workplace inspectors from the Labor Ministry tend to overlook these dangerous conditions despite the fact that there are thousands of these workshops across the country. " Helal added that “most of the large companies, factories, and industries here in Egypt, whether they are public or private sector enterprises, do not resort to the employment of child laborers. "

So what is needed to eradicate, or at least diminish, the phenomenon of child labor in Egypt? Helal believes that “a nationwide awareness campaign detailing the dangers and detriments of child labor is urgently required. A change in laws is also needed, especially amendments to the unified labor law, health insurance law, and workplace injuries law. Plus a general change in Egypt’s economic conditions whereby families would no longer need to resort to the use of child labor. "

According to Barakat the Egyptian State is not doing what it should be doing. He said that it “can start by promoting social development, improving its schools’ educational standards, and upgrading its public health care services. Saber added that “Egypt’s poor public educational system is characterized by ill-equipped schools and incompetent teachers, along with a lack of adequate learning facilities and playgrounds. If these conditions are improved then children shall have a real incentive to complete their schooling, without having to resort to child labor. " He went on to say that “declining real wages tend to push working men away from poorly-paid jobs and to push women and children, who are typically paid lower wages, into replacing them in these same jobs. The state should focus on raising wages, curtailing unemployment, and improving working conditions so as to keep adults in the labor market, and to keep children out of it.

In January 2006 the NCCW launched its “National Strategy for the Elimination of Child Labor, " and during this same month, First Lady Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak launched a campaign in coordination with the ILO known as the “Red Card to Child Labor. " Whether or not these campaigns will have any real impact on child labor is yet to be gauged. The World Day Against Child Labor is commemorated each year on June 12.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Anarchists incite migrants to ‘tear down border controls & make for UK’

The Daily Mail

Riot police descend on Calais as anarchists incite migrants to ‘tear down border controls and make for Britain’

Hundreds of armed riot police began arriving in Calais today as anarchists pledged to mobilise migrants to ‘tear down border controls and make for Britain’.

More than 2,000 protesters are expected in the northern French port for a week of action.

They want the illegal migrants sleeping rough in the area to be able to get over to the UK as quickly as possible, even if it means fighting the forces of law and order.

Local authorities are taking the situation so seriously that they have already drafted detachments of elite CRS riot control officers into the town.

'We’re prepared for the worst,' said Jean-Philippe Joubert, state prosecutor from nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer.

'Emergency magistrates will also be mobilised to ensure that anyone causing trouble will be imprisoned immediately.

'We don’t know exactly what this group intend to do, but we won’t take any chances. Whatever happens, we’re ready to react.'

A group calling itself ‘No Borders’ is advertising a ‘Freedom of Movement’ camp in Calais next week.

It is calling on protesters from Britain and other European countries to join them in ‘tearing down borders.’

‘Calais is a symbol of injustices committed against the world’s migrants,’ said one, a French anarchist who asked to be referred to as Thierry.

He has already pitched a tent next to the CRS’s temporary quarters next door to Calais port, and expects to be joined by thousands like him.

‘The authorities are taking us very seriously,’ said Thierry. ‘We intend to encourage migrants to ignore border controls and get over to Britain en masse.’

Some 2,000 migrants are based in the Calais area, with many playing a regular game of cat and mouse with the police as they try to get to Britain by stowing away on lorries and trains. There they will claim asylum or disappear into the black economy.

Although the French have pledged to tear down migrants camps in Calais itself, many believe Britain should accept all the migrants who want to go there.

Last month Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, said the UK’s lax asylum system and benefits culture had ‘imposed’ thousands of illegal migrants on her town.

In a blistering attack in which she also called for millions in compensation, Mrs Bouchart said the UK was entirely to blame for the those who use the port as a staging point.

Mrs Bouchart, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP Party, even called for border controls to be lifted to allow all migrants to flood across the Channel at the earliest opportunity.

Such views are heartily supported by the militants organizing the ‘No Border’ demonstrations, which are set to run between June 23 and 29.

A Calais police spokesman said: ‘Extra officers, including CRS, are being drafted into Calais from a 100 mile radius in order to deal with a threat to public order posed by anti-immigration protestors.

‘The reinforcements have already arrived, with the demonstrations due to start properly next week.’

Monday, June 15, 2009

Netanyahu Offers Subjugation of Palestinians

Limiting a Palestinian state

By Lamis Andoni, Al Jazeera's Middle East analyst

It was billed as a peace speech, but Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, echoed the words of a colonialist conqueror when he delivered his much-anticipated policy speech at Bar Illan University.

Without ambiguity, he told the Palestinians that their existence and future hinges on their acquiescence - the relinquishing of their own history, rights and aspirations.

In effect, Netanyahu called on the Palestinian to accept total surrender.

It was a speech reminding the vanquished that they have no rights beyond accepting the terms of their defeat.

In the tradition of victorious colonialists, Netanyahu's vision for the future emanates from a self-entitlement to rewrite history and to determine the fate of his defeated subjects.

Netanyahu's speech is a blow to a justice-based solution to the conflict, not merely because it offers no more than a powerless entity subject to de facto Israeli control, but more significantly because the Israeli leader's vision is based on an extremist Zionist narrative that promotes the view that the historic land of Palestine – recognised as Israel and the West Bank — is the homeland of the Jewish people.

Revisionist history
Such an account categorically denies Palestinian history and Arab roots in Palestine and therefore does not acknowledge the dispossession of the Palestinians in 1948, or the 1967 occupation of West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Instead they are the "undisputed lands of Israel".

"The state of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people and will remain so," Netanyahu told his audience.

"The connection of the Jewish people to the land has been in existence for more than 3,500 years.

"Judea and Samaria - the places where our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked, our forefathers David, Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah.

"This is not a foreign land, this is the land of our forefathers," he said emphatically to loud applause.

Throughout his speech Netanyahu never even remotely referred to an occupation, or an end to occupation.

Instead, he referred to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in the 1967 war as "when the soldiers entered Judea and Samaria".

The presence of the Palestinians "in the land of Israel", as Netanyahu framed it, is a problem that Israel has had to deal with to ensure its security, rather that of an occupation and dispossession of an indigenous people.
Netanyahu's two preconditions for peace are a logical consequence of his blatant and distorted revisionist history.

Asking the Arabs and the Palestinians to recognise that Israel is the historic "Jewish homeland" is paramount to demanding that the Arab, Muslim and Palestinians themselves recant their own history, roots and identity.

Thus by denying their own rights, Palestinians are reduced to a foreign community that accidentally found itself in another people's land and must accept the terms of its "hosts".

Communities as such do not exercise the right to self-determination or national rights.

Therefore, it is only natural, following Netanyahu's line of thinking, that a Palestinian state is only accepted if it is devoid of real sovereignty or independence.

Palestinian state
It is misleading to interpret Netanyahu's conditions as that of accepting a two-state solution.

The vision that Netanyahu laid out stripped the Palestinians of their right to self-determination and replaced it with Israel's "right" to continue its domination of Palestinian lands and lives.

"But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians," Netanyahu said.

In other words, the presence of Palestinians in their lands is portrayed as an accident of history – thus annulling in one speech their history and stripping them of their legal, let alone their national, rights.

'Jewish homeland'
It is only in the context of denying Palestinian history and identity that Netanyahu's proposed demands should be understood and evaluated.
Netanyahu's two preconditions for peace are a logical consequence of his blatant and distorted revisionist history.

Asking the Arabs and the Palestinians to recognise that Israel is the historic "Jewish homeland" is paramount to demanding that the Arab, Muslim and Palestinians themselves recant their own history, roots and identity.

Thus by denying their own rights, Palestinians are reduced to a foreign community that accidentally found itself in another people's land and must accept the terms of its "hosts".

Communities as such do not exercise the right to self-determination or national rights.

Therefore, it is only natural, following Netanyahu's line of thinking, that a Palestinian state is only accepted if it is devoid of real sovereignty or independence.

Palestinian state
It is misleading to interpret Netanyahu's conditions as that of accepting a two-state solution.

The vision that Netanyahu laid out stripped the Palestinians of their right to self-determination and replaced it with Israel's "right" to continue its domination of Palestinian lands and lives.
He wants occupation without the burden and the responsibility of spearheading one.

He laid out a vision for an isolated and besieged Palestinian entity that would have no control over the land beneath it, nor the skies above it.

"The territory in Palestinian hands must be demilitarised - in other words, without an army, without control of airspace and with effective security safeguards," he said.

His demand for a "demilitarised state" is thus a logical demand, for how else can Netanyahu and Israel and its future leaders ensure the total subordination of future Palestinian generations who will be borne into a perpetual prison in the guise of statehood?

Seen in this light, from a Palestinian viewpoint, Netanyahu is not only trying to deprive Palestinians of their present aspirations for independence, but to deny future generations the right to dream of freedom.

Breakdown of spirit
Total subordination of the vanquished, in the logic of conquerors, is only possible if the defeated are denied the right and the ability to resist.

Disarming an imprisoned population to ensure its control in the name of statehood is a prerequisite to ensure that future generations will not rebel against Israeli control.

But it is not the most dangerous aspect of Netanyahu's terms for Palestinian surrender.

Netanyahu is after a moral and psychological breakdown of the Palestinian spirit.

Breaking the spirit of a nation is not achieved solely through depriving Palestinians of the right to resist or of their right to self-defence, but by forcing the Palestinians to relinquish their memory.
Memory is the key element here.

It is astonishing that Washington and Western governments rushed to embrace Netanyahu's call for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, which is paramount to a blatant call to erase Palestinian history.

In his speech, Netanyahu rewrote the history of the conflict by erasing any mention of Palestinians' right to their historic land, denying Palestinian identity and the saga of Israeli-imposed dispossession of the Palestinian people and occupation of Palestinian land.

'Simple truth'
Netanyahu's narrative, long propagated by the Israeli right wing and extremist Zionists, is that the establishment of Israel was an exercise of the right of the Jewish people to their natural homeland - Israel bears no responsibility for the Palestinian refugees and finally there was never a problem of dispossession and occupation.

"The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been and remains - the refusal to recognise the right of the Jewish people to their own state in their historical homeland," Nentanyahu said.

Nentayahu's rhetoric is consistent with his long-standing politics and reflects the prevailing ideology of the Israeli establishment.

What is more disturbing is Washington's welcome of the speech as a positive step towards peace.

In his Cairo speech, Barrack Obama, the US president, offered a new beginning with the Arab and Muslims worlds based "on mutual understanding and respect".

By hailing Netanyahu's racist policy speech, Obama is squandering whatever momentum he sought to build as he perpetuates America's endorsement of Israeli superiority.

Bill Clinton, the former US president, made the same mistake when he unconditionally supported the similar "generous offer" of Ehud Barrak, then Israeli prime minister, who proposed establishing a fragmented, powerless entity in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the guise of Palestinian statehood.

Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, rejected the offer, and disillusioned Palestinians erupted in an uprising against Israel - the second Intifada.

Neither the Israeli nor American leaders seem to learn from history.

No Palestinian leader, moderate or extremist, will accept such subordination.

For the Palestinians it is a betrayal of their history, as well as a betrayal of future generations.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

AFP - Foreign media say Iran blocking coverage of protests

BERLIN (AFP) — Several foreign news organisations complained Sunday that Iranian authorities were blocking their reporters from covering protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election.

German public television channels ZDF and ARD said their reporters were not allowed to broadcast their reports, while the BBC said the signals of its Persian services were being jammed from Iran.

The Dubai-based Arab news channel Al-Arabiya in Tehran was forbidden from working for a week and Dutch broadcaster Nederland 2 said its journalist and cameraman were arrested and ordered to leave the country.

Foreign media converged in Iran to cover Friday's presidential election, whose official result sparked violent protests in Tehran after Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by a landslide.

Violence erupted for a second day on Sunday as supporters of Ahmadinejad's closest challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi clashed with riot police. Mousavi denounced the election as a fraud and called for the vote to be annulled.

The editors in chief of German public television channels ZDF and ARD sent a letter to the Iranian ambassador in Berlin accusing Iranian authorities of barring their reporters from doing their work.

ARD correspondent Peter Mezger can no longer leave his hotel while ZDF journalist Halim Hosny and his colleagues have not been allowed to report on the events, their chief editors wrote.

"We see a breach of freedom of the press and democratic principles," their editors said in their letter.

Iranian authorities had already barred the journalists from filming and broadcasting their images in recent days, the editors said.

ARD and ZDF insisted that they would "continue to report on the events in Iran" in a "critical, fair and independent" manner.

The British Broadcasting Corporation said the satellites it uses for its Persian television and radio services had been affected since Friday by "heavy electronic jamming" which had become "progressively worse."

Satellite technicians had traced the interference to Iran, the BBC said.

"Any attempt to block BBC Persian television is wrong and against international treaties on satellite communication. Whoever is attempting the blocking should stop it now," said BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks.

"It seems to be part of a pattern of behaviour by the Iranian authorities to limit the reporting of the aftermath of the disputed election," he said, noting that BBC world affairs editor John Simpson and his cameraman were briefly arrested after filming a report.

Dutch public broadcaster Nederland 2 said NOVA journalist Jan Eikelboom and cameraman Dennis Hilgers, who had been in Iran for several days covering the election, "were filming in front of the headquarters of Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's main rival, when they were arrested by police," the channel said in a statement.

"They were pushed against a wall and their tapes were seized. Their filming permits were withdrawn and they have to leave the country immediately," it said.

The Arab news channel Al-Arabiya said that its correspondent, who has been in Tehran for the past four months, had been "informed verbally" of the decision to shut down his office for a week.

"We are not allowed to do any coverage. No reason was given, and there was no earlier warning," executive editor Nabil al-Khateeb told AFP. "I believe it is due to the current state of unrest."

Belgian radio stations RTBF and VRT said their reporters were briefly detained and ordered not take pictures, Belga news agency reported.

The correspondent of Spanish public channel TVE said during a live broadcast Saturday that police had confiscated a video of one the protests.

Israel sentences 2 Palestinian journalists for reporting Israeli troop moves in Gaza offensive

The Associated Press
June 14

JERUSALEM — A Jerusalem court has convicted two Palestinian journalists of breaking a gag order on Israeli troop movements during the Gaza offensive and sentenced them to two months in prison.

According to Sunday's verdict, the two breached a gag order when they reported that Israel's ground invasion was underway on January 3.

The reporters work for a West Bank company that provides news reports to Iranian media.

Their video of soldiers entering Gaza was broadcast on Arab and Iranian TV. The verdict said the footage put Israeli soldiers at risk.

Israel's military censorship regulations prohibit reporting on troop movements without permission.

Power Plant will Destroy Marine Life & Coral Reefs in Red Sea - if Constructed

Stop the Destruction of Nuweiba and its Coral Reefs

Click the link above to read all about this environmental disaster just waiting to happen & please sign the petition.

Tens of Tree-planting Workers Demonstrate outside Ministry of Agriculture

On Sunday, tens of tree-planting workers demonstrated outside the Ministry of Agriculture in the Doqqi District of Cairo. They resorted to this protest action after their many petitions to the Minister of Agriculture and the Prime Minister were ignored. These workers have been employed on temporary work contracts for several years now in the Tree-planting Sectors of governmental Agricultural Departments. They traveled to the Agriculture Ministry in Cairo all the way from their Nile Delta Governorates of Munifiya and Gharbiya, at their own expense, in order to voice their numerous grievances and to demand employment as full-time workers.

According to these workers nearly all their rights were being denied by virtue of these temporary contracts. Some of the female workers amongst these tree-planters said that they had been employed on temporary contracts for 17 continuous years. These workers’ basic wages are set at LE60-LE70 per month (around $US11-$US-14), they are subjected to being laid-off at any point, are not covered by any health insurance plans, and may be denied their wages for several months at a time.

The Center for Trade Union & Workers Services expresses its solidarity with these workers’ demands, and calls for a reconsideration of those provisions in Unified Labor Law 12/2003 which entrench the norm of employing workers on temporary contracts.



اعتصام عمال التشجير بمحافظتى الغربية والمنوفية أمام وزارة الزراعة

اعتصم اليوم الأحد الموافق 14 يونيو 2009 عشرات العاملين فى قسم التشجير بمديريتى الغربية والمنوفية الزراعية أمام مقر وزارة الزراعة بالدقى، وذلك احتجاجاً على تأخر صرف مرتباتهم منذ أكثر من سنتين، والمطالبة بإلغاء العقود المؤقتة، وتثبيت العمالة المؤقتة التى تعمل منذ سنوات طويلة .
وقال العاملون أنهم على مر السنوات الماضية يتعرضون للمعاملة السيئة من رؤسائهم بسبب نظام العقد المؤقت الذى يسلب العامل كل حقوقه، ويجعله عرضة للطرد من عمله فى أى وقت دون أى حماية . تقول زينب عبده – عاملة بالغربية - : "احنا سافرنا على حسابنا وجينا لحد هنا فى وزارة الزراعة بعد ما زهقنا واتخنقنا، كل يوم وعود ومفيش حاجة بتتنفذ، احنا بيعاملونا اكننا مواطنين من الدرجة التالتة، محدش

ويضيف حسين عبد المجيد – عامل بالغربية – أرسلنا العديد من الشكاوى لوزير الزراعة ورئيس الوزراء دون جدوى، وفشلنا فى مقابلة عبد الحميد الشناوى محافظ الغربية الذى لم يهتم لمطالبنا، مؤكداً أن أسر العمال معرضة للتشريد بسبب التعنت فى الاستجابة لمطالبهم فى التثبيت وصرف رواتبهم التى لم تصرف منذ سنتين!!.
وتقول زينات احمد – عاملة بالمنوفية - : " كل لما نعتصم يطلع لنا مسئول يقولنا احنا هنحل لكم المشكلة وننفذ مطالبكم، وبعدها مفيش حاجة بتحصل، ومحدش بيلتزم بكلمته معانا بعد كدة هنطلع على رياسة الجمهورية".

وتضيف سحر عبد الخالق – عاملة بالمنوفية - : " بقالنا سنين شغالين بالعقود المؤقتة، ومش متأمن علينا كل دة بسبب نظام العقود المؤقتة، وكل فترة يمشوا ناس ويجيبوا ناس، لو مسئول معجبوش حد ممكن يمشيه فى أى وقت بمزاجه، مش عارفين نحس بأمان فى الدولة دى"!!.

وتشير نادية الحيلة – عاملة بالغربية – على أن راتب العامل الأساسى 60 جنيه للمؤهلات المتوسطة و75 للمؤهلات العليا وإعدادهم تتجاوز الـ3 آلاف عاملة تعاقدت معهم وزارة الزراعة منذ 17 عاما، ولم يتم تثبيتهم.

هذا وقد حاول أفراد الحراسة الأمنية أمام وزارة الزراعة بتفريق العاملين وإقناعهم بالعدول عن فكرة
الاعتصام، بعد أن رفع العاملون لافتات تطالب بتدخل وزير الزراعة ورئيس الجمهورية لحل مشاكلهم، ولافتات أخرى مدون عليه مطالب العمال التى تتمثل فى صرف أجورهم، والفاء العقود المؤقتة وتثبيتهم فى أعمالهم، بينما طلب مسئولى وزارة الزراعة عدد من العمال للتفاوض معهم وبحث مشاكلهم ومطالبهم.

إن دار الخدمات النقابية والعمالية إذ تؤكد على تضامنها الكامل مع مطالب العمال المشروعة تدعوا كافة الجهات المعنية والقوى الديمقراطية فى المجتمع المصرى إلى إعلان تضامنها، وتطالب بضرورة إعادة النظر فى مواد قانون العمل رقم 12 لسنة 2003 التى رسخت العمل بالعقود المؤقتة، وتؤكد على أحقية عمال تشجير محافظتى الغربية والمنوفية فى التثبيت..

دار الخدمات النقابية والعمالية
14 يونيو 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

ITUC launches scathing attack on Egypt
Reported by Mahmoud Azuz in Geneva

The Secretary General of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Guy Ryder, launched a harsh attack on the Egyptian authorities on the grounds of the continued use of Emergency Laws in Egypt.

Ryder said the while the government justifies the continued use of Emergency Law on the grounds that it is needed to combat terrorism, it is used by the state to combat all of its political and social opposition forces which have been stifled for the past 20 years.

In a report reviewed yesterday during the International Labor Conference, currently being held in Geneva (Switzerland), Ryder accused the Egyptian government, represented by the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration, of interfering in the affairs of workers and trade unions denying workers the right of association and the right to join the trade unions. He said Egyptian labor laws ban the participation of trade unions in political activities which contradicts principles of freedom and the rights of association.

He called on the government, employer organizations and companies to set a minimum wage suiting the increases in the prices of all commodities and services.

Rider also said it is impossible for workers to organize a strike in Egypt because of what he described as restrictions imposed by Egyptian laws on the right to go on strike.

He criticized the Prime Minister's right to ban strikes in strategic sectors.

He pointed out that labor dispute resolution committees in Egypt do not carry out their role, saying for example they issued rulings on just almost 10% of the more than 250,000 complaints they received in 2005.

He affirmed that exempting export economic zones from complying with the legal provisions on work regulation deprived workers of their right to form trade unions committees defending them. He explained that in spite of the government's control and supervision on the negotiations and collective agreements in the private sector, many businessmen and representatives of companies do not respect the government's decisions on workers and the requirements concerning minimum wage, social security and other issues.

The ITUC Secretary General criticized the State for imposing judicial oversight on professional trade unions (engineers, doctors and pharmacists) although there are independent candidates who have won the elections in these trade unions in previous years.

AFP - Egypt swine flu cases rise to 18

CAIRO (AFP) — Egypt reported three new cases of swine flu on Saturday, as two children and a Colombian woman tested positive for the A(H1N1) virus, bringing to 18 the total.

A health ministry official told state news agency Mena the new cases were a 45-year-old Colombian woman and two children aged seven and eight, one of them a dual US and Egyptian citizen and the other a Canadian-Egyptian.

They arrived separately in Cairo last week from the United States, Canada and Colombia.

An American University of Cairo residence in the upscale neighbourhood of Zamalek remains under quarantine after six American students and one teaching assistant were found to have been infected with the virus last week.

The university, which has suspended classes, says courses will resume on Monday, when the quarantine is due to be lifted.

Egypt, which decided to cull its estimated 250,000 pigs after reports of outbreaks in other countries, has not taken any new measures since the World Health Organisation announced a swine flu pandemic on Thursday.

Authorities check travellers at airports and quarantine those who exhibit flu symptoms.

Egypt reported its and the continent's first case on June 2, when a 12-year-old girl travelling from the United States tested positive.

The country is already battling the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed 27 people since it was first reported in 2006.

The Pandemic Begins
Friday 12, 2009
Jano Charbel

News that the A(H1N1) Influenza had developed into a global pandemic was announced at a press conference held on Thursday night at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office in Cairo, in the absence of officials from the Egyptian Ministry of Health. After having consulted with influenza experts, leading virologists and public health officials, the WHO’s director-general determined that the threat of Swine Flu should be raised from pandemic phase 5 to the highest level - phase 6 - and has now been classified as a global influenza pandemic.

Though the A(H1N1) Influenza Pandemic has presently infected around 30,000 people in 74 countries , causing a global panic, it has only resulted in 141 deaths. In other words, currently less than one percent of those infected with Swine Flu have died from it. The WHO’s spokesman Dr. John Jabbour said that “we have a total of 12 confirmed cases in Egypt, all of which have come from abroad, having imported the influenza. All have been treated and recovered. Further infections are expected, naturally, Jabbour added.

Pandemics are contagious diseases, viruses, or influenzas which are spread among humans over large geographic regions, continents, or even across the world. According to the WHO’s classification system for pandemics, the A(H1N1) Influenza has passed through Phases 1-3: where infections are predominantly found in animals with limited infections of humans; Phase 4: characterized by sustained transmission amongst humans; and finally Phases 5-6: Where infections spread over continents, and then globally.

After reaching its apex the pandemic then tapers off to its post-peak level, and then to the post-pandemic level WHO officials were not in a position to answer journalists’ questions as to how long this pandemic would last." Months or maybe a year? "We cannot provide any projections as to how long this pandemic will last? said Dr. Gawwad Mahmoud, the WHO’s Director of Disease Control. He added “we’re still trying to comprehend this virus."

Jabbour and Mahmoud reiterated the stance of the WHO’s director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, in saying that – airports and international borders should not be closed down in light of this pandemic. Travelers, cargo, commercial goods, and pharmaceuticals (including vaccinations) should not either be prevented from crossing borders – given that they are screened, and inspected; quarantined and treated if necessary. Jabbour added “the closure of borders will not help. It will only create additional economic burdens and crises across the world.

The last time a global pandemic was announced was 41 years ago. The Hong Kong Flu Pandemic lasted from 1968-69, leaving around one million people dead worldwide. Virologists have pointed out that such pandemics may surface every few decades. There have been numerous sorts of pandemics throughout history, some of which have decimated entire populations. The worldwide Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918-19 lasted only around six months, yet it left at least 50 million dead in its aftermath.

As was noted by WHO officials – the current strain of Swine Flu is moderately severe in terms of its infections. There are numerous individuals who were infected with the new A(H1N1) Influenza and who have recovered without vaccinations or medical attention. That is not to say that this is the norm, or that medical attention is unnecessary. Children, the elderly, and individuals with weak immune systems are most prone to fall victim. In fact most of the A(H1N1) cases have been reported in individuals under the age of 25.

As for the H5N1 strain of the Avian Influenza, it has infected humans via poultry since 2003. The total rate of fatalities associated with Bird Flu infections worldwide is 60%. In Egypt a total of 76 people have been diagnosed with the H5N1 Influenza infected since 2006, 27 of which have died. In other words 35% of those infected here with Bird Flu have died as a result. Thus the current global fatality rate associated with Swine Flu - of nearly 0.5% pales in comparison to the fatalities associated with Bird Flu. However, the Bird and Swine Flues are susceptible to mutation, where they may both develop into more infectious strains which are increasingly resistant to vaccines. In the words of the WHO director-general “the virus writes the rules and this one, like all influenza viruses, can change the rules, without rhyme or reason, at any time."

The WHO cites that it “remains in close dialogue with influenza vaccine manufacturers, and that “production of vaccines for seasonal influenza will be completed soon; adding that at “full capacity we will be available to ensure the largest possible supply of pandemic vaccines in the months to come. But will the world really be able to brace itself for this global influenza pandemic? Just how prepared is Egypt for the A(H1N1) Influenza coupled with the H5N1 Influenza?

According to an interview conducted earlier in the month with Health Ministry Spokesman, Dr. Abdel Rahman Shahin, “we have 33 border crossings points – including land crossings, airports, and seaports. Each of these points of entry is now equipped with heat-sensing cameras used to screen all people entering the country, we also have quarantine areas in each of these border crossing points – in which cases of suspected infections are kept aside and tested for the virus. He added “we currently have a strategic reserve of 2.5 million Tamiflu vaccinations, for combating not only bird flu but also swine flu. We have ordered another 2.5 million such vaccinations, which are on their way. In addition to this we have 100 million facial masks, plus six months worth of strategic stockpiles in baby milk, insulin, albumin, filters and filtration devices for patients undergoing kidney dialyses, and blood bags – all this in case that trade or travel bans are imposed."

As for the WHO’s advice regarding how to protect yourself and others from the A(H1N1) Influenza they offer eight recommendations. Cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing and sneezing; Properly dispose of used tissues immediately after use; Regularly wash hands with soap and water; If you have flu-like symptoms, seek medical advice immediately; If you have flu-like symptoms keep a distance of at least one meter from other people; If you have flu-like symptoms stay home, away from work, school or crowded places; Avoid hugging, kissing and shaking hands when greeting; Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands

Dr. Jabbour’s advice to Egyptians, and citizens of the world alike, is that: “individuals, just like governments, are responsible for doing their part in keeping the influenza from spreading. We must be wary of our personal hygiene, and of avoiding crowded places so as not to spread the influenza from one person to another."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Egypt Reports 10th Case of Swine Flu

Egypt reports two more swine flu cases

CAIRO (AFP)— Two more cases of swine flu were reported in Egypt on Wednesday, a day after five Americans tested positive for the disease in a Cairo campus residence, health ministry officials said.

One case was reported in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and the other in Cairo, ministry spokesman Mohammed Salam said. Both patients were taken to hospital for treatment.

Deputy health minister Nasser el-Sayyed told local television that both patients were Egyptians who had recently come from the United States.

The health ministry said on Tuesday it would extend a quarantine on an American University of Cairo residence in the upscale neighbourhood of Zamalek after five more residents were found to have been infected with the A(H1N1) virus.

The campus was first locked down on Monday after two students tested positive for the virus. The latest cases bring to 10 the number of swine flu infections in Egypt, the most populous Arab country.

On June 2, a 12-year-old girl who arrived from the United States became the first confirmed case of swine flu in Egypt and in Africa.

Egypt had responded to the outbreak of the swine flu in other countries by undertaking a cull of the country's estimated 250,000 pigs.

Egypt is already battling the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed 27 people since it was first reported in 2006.

The authorities have stepped up checks of travellers at airports, quarantining suspected cases in makeshift centres.

Swine flu has now spread to 73 countries with 26,563 people known to have been infected and 140 to have died since the disease was uncovered in April, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

850 Tanta Linen Workers Continue Strike

Tanta Linen Workers Persist with their Strike; Security Troops Forcefully Disperse their Protest Stand Outside Parliament

The Tanta linen workers’ strike has entered its second week; this strike has witnessed many developments including a collective hunger strike, and an appeal for parliamentary intercession together with a protest stand of around 100 workers outside parliament – which police troops forcefully dispersed. Despite all these actions the Saudi businessman/investor who manages the company, Abdallah Saleh Al Kaaky, has disregarded the workers demands.

These workers began their strike on May 31, and with their local union committee, demanded the payment of their overdue bonuses, profit-sharing imbursements, and an increase in food allowance. The workers also demanded the reinstatement of their nine co-workers - who were sacked on the grounds of their participation in the strike.

These workers are: Gamal Othman, Aqqad Tantawi, Ashraf El Harti, Ali Abu Leila, Ahmad El Shennawi, Ramadan Bagouri, Mustafa El Sawi, in addition to the two union committee members, Hisham El Akl, and Ra’fat Ramadan.

It must be mentioned that this strike was even authorized by the (state-controlled) General Union for Textile Workers.

The Center for Trade Union & Workers’ Services expresses its solidarity with these workers and their demands.

June 9, 2009



استمرار إضراب عمال طنطا للكتان

وقوات الأمن تفض اعتصامهم أمام مجلس الشعب بالقوة

دخل إضراب عمال شركة طنطا للكتان

أسبوعه الثانى على التوالى، وعلى الرغم من أن أيام الإضراب قد شهدت العديد من الأحداث وصلت لتهديد العمال بالدخول فى إضراب جماعى عن الطعام، إلا أن المستثمر السعودى عبداللاه صالح الكعكى وفى تحدى غريب ما زال يعلن أنه لن يصرف أى حقوق للعمال، متجاهلا كافة أساليب الضغط التى اتخذها عمال الشركة ونقابتهم العامة والتى كان أخرها أمس الاثنين باعتصام أكثر من 100 عامل من عمال الشركة أمام مقر مجلس الشعب فى أثناء مناقشة طلب الإحاطة الذى تقدم به أحد أعضاء المجلس حول مشكلة عمال الشركة، وهو الاعتصام الذى قامت قوات الأمن بفضه بالقوة والاعتداء على العمال وإجبارهم على العودة للشركة.

يذكر أن عمال الشركة البالغ عددهم 850 عاملا قد بدأوا إضرابهم فى 31 مايو الماضى بموافقة النقابة العامة للغزل والنسيج، مطالبين بصرف الحوافز على أساسى مرتب 2008 بدلاً من 2003، صرف الأرباح المتراكمة التى لم تصرف منذ بيع الشركة للمستثمر السعودى، وزيادة بدل الوجبة الغذائية من 32 جنيه إلى 90 جنيه أسوة بجميع شركات الغزل والنسيج، وصرف العلاوة الدورية بنسبة 7 % من الأجر الأساسى التى لم يتم صرفها منذ عام 2003، وإعادة زملائهم المفصولين الذين تم فصلهم عقب إضراب العمال فى شهر يوليو 2008 ومنهم اثنين من أعضاء مجلس إدارة اللجنة النقابية بالشركة، بل وقامت الإدارة بالاستيلاء على مقر اللجنة النقابية.

والعمال المفصولين هم جمال عثمان، عقاد طنطاوى، أشرف الحارتى، على أبو ليلة، أحمد الشناوى، رمضان الباجورى ومصطفى الصاوى، بالاضافة إلى عضوين بمجلس إدارة اللجنة النقابية وهما هشام العكل ورأفت رمضان.

هذا وقد بدأت مشاكل عمال شركة طنطا للكتان فى التفاقم منذ أن قامت الحكومة ببيعها ضمن برنامج إعادة التكيف الهيكلى (الخصخصة) إلى المستثمر السعودى عبداللاه صالح الكعكى بـ 83 مليون جنيه بالتقسيط على ثلاث سنوات برغم أن القيمة الفعلية للشركة 500 مليون جنيه!!

إن دار الخدمات النقابية والعمالية تطالب كافة أجهزة الدولة بالتحرك السريع لمواجهة صلف وتعنت المستثمر السعودي، حيث أنه قد ضرب عرض الحائط بكافة القوانين المصرية بل والأعراف المتبعة، فلم يبدى أى احترام لوساطة بعض المسئولين الحكوميين وعلى رأسهم أعضاء مجلسى الشعب والشورى عن الدائرة ووزيرة القوى العاملة.. وترى أن ما زال هناك العديد من الوسائل الأخرى للضغط على المستثمر السعودى وعلى رأسها التقدم من الجهات المعنية ببلاغ إلى النائب العام للحجز على الشركة وفاءا لمستحقات العاملين، والنظر بجدية لاستعادة الشركة وفسخ عقد البيع مع المستثمر، حيث أنه قد خالف بشكل واضح شروط عقد البيع بالحفاظ على حقوق العاملين باعتراف الشركة القابضة للصناعات الكيماوية والتى قامت برفع دعوى قضائية عليه.

وتناشد الدار الاتحادات والمنظمات النقابية التضامن مع عمال شركة طنطا للكتان فى إضرابهم من أجل تحقيق مطالبهم العادلة.

دار الخدمات النقابية والعمالية

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Go Home Zionist Yankee & Don’t Come Back

President Obama’s speech at Cairo University today was simply blah blah blah. The US president kept pushing the points of peace, cooperation, and human rights in the Middle East, Arab World, and in Muslim countries. As if Apartheid-Zionist Israel, or any of the dictators in the Arab World, will ever abide by these principles. Obama paints the picture of a new US foreign policy based on tolerance and understanding of “the other.”

Obama also attempted to paint a picture of a new and diluted stage of US imperialism – closing down Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp over the year (although he didn’t mention the exceptional trials to which many of its inmates will be subjected to, in denial of their due process rights, which are fundamental human rights) and commencing the pullout of American troops from Iraq in August 2010, while keeping forces in the illegally occupied country until 2012. Does this mean the end of US imperialism around the world? Absolutely not!

The US President emphasized the historical relationship binding the US & Israel, and condemned the “violence” of Palestinians “who fire rockets at sleeping children” and the “bombing of buses full of innocent civilians and elderly passengers.” It must be remembered that the last (isolated) Palestinian suicide bombing took place in February 2008, and that their primitive home-made rockets usually don't kill Israelis. What about the mass violence of US-supplied Israeli jet fighters, missiles, and tanks which killed some 1,500 people in the besieged Gaza Strip during December 2008-January 2009? Why didn’t Obama mention that Israel bombed homes, hospitals, schools, mosques, and refugee camps? Is this not violence? Is the ongoing Egyptian-Israeli siege of the entire Gaza Strip not violence?

Obama went on to say that violence is not the means of the brave or the strong. Really? So the violence of the armed American Revolution (1775-1783) against British Colonial rule was cowardly and weak, I assume? He also mentioned that African Americans won their rights through non-violent action, as was the case with Black South Africans during Apartheid rule. But didn’t America fight a Civil War (1861-65), partially over the abolition of slavery? What about the Soweto Uprising of 1976 in South Africa, was that cowardly?

I agree that non-violence is an important and powerful tool; but violence against racism & occupation is equally important, powerful, and legitimate. Obama mentioned the unprecedented Holocaust, and its six million deaths; but could he dare argue that the Jewish Uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto (from April-May, 1943) was cowardly? Nay, nay! Indeed it was heroic - just like the modern Gaza Ghetto Uprising is heroic.

Common Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights and of the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights stipulates that:

1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

Therefore the Palestinians, Lebanese, and Syrians have the right to use armed resistance in order to realize their self-determination (as long as Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shouba, and the Golan Heights remain illegally occupied by Israel) as do the Iraqis and Afghans (whose countries are occupied by an international alliance of aggressors, led by the American State.)

Nothing new here, just a lot of hot air from another Zionist US President.

Talk is cheap, while Zionist talk is worthless.